WYE MILLS - Anyone thinking the Chesapeake men’s basketball team will show signs of decline after going 23-3 – the second most victories in school history – may be proven wrong or in for a surprise.
The Skipjacks’ leading scorer and point guard Mahzi Thames (Virginia Union University) departed along with two other starters, sharpshooter Craig Turner (Point Park University) and guard Jalen White, and sixth man Jalen Freeman.
Chesapeake Men’s Basketball Coach Andrew Sachs, however, is not rebuilding, just reloading.
The Skipjacks return two excellent scoring options: sophomore guards JayShaun Freeman (16.1 points per game) and DJ Earl (14.1). Sachs also added four transfers, including point guard Lamont Powell, an Easton High graduate who started at Garrett College last year.
“I expect to surpass last year’s win total, Chesapeake Men’s Basketball Coach Andrew Sachs said. “We play more games. I think it’s a much deeper team.”
The Skipjacks could use as many as 10 players a game compared to six or seven last year.
“I don’t think we will have to play anybody 35-plus minutes like last year,” Sachs recalled. “It allows us to press more and have interchangeable lineups. We can play small, or we can go bigger if we need to.”
Sachs is also excited about his other transfers: sophomore guards Izaiah Credle (Delaware Tech) and Justin DeMaria (Division II Le Moyne College) and sophomore forward Ezekiel Edwards (Garrett College).
The 6-foot-4 DeMaria especially has impressed the coach.
“I think he is going to be a really good player in our league,” Sachs said. “He has good size and can really shoot the basketball. He has a high basketball IQ.”
Credle started 21 games at Delaware Tech last year and averaged 15.9 points.
Powell could have the biggest impact since he is coming off a solid freshman year.
He averaged 11.4 points while shooting 40 percent from 3-point range and 89 percent from the free throw line.
“He had a high assist-to-turnover ratio at Garrett,” Sachs said. “Hopefully, he can continue that with us. It’s very important to protect the basketball. He has big shoes to fill with Mahzi leaving, but he has experience and length at the point guard spot.”
Like the last two years, the Skipjacks have some quality freshmen. Center Azim Sana, forwards Elisha Gregory and TaQuan Courtney, a Kent Island graduate, and Credle’s brother Elijah, a guard, will support the returnees and transfers.
The 6-foot-7 Sana offers Chesapeake the size it lacked the past two seasons.
“He gives us a shot blocker and a pure post player,” Sachs explained. “It allows us to play more inside-out than we have in the past.”
Three freshmen, center Tom Nisson and forwards Rickey Butler and Kyle Jones, are vying for minutes.
The Skipjacks’ season opener Tuesday offered a glimpse of who will be getting more attention. Freeman led Chesapeake with 18 points in a rout of the Mount St. Mary’s University JV. Earl figures to be in the same position, too, this season on some nights.
“We have had a lot of talent in the past, but I feel like we are a deeper team this year,” Chesapeake assistant coach Delonte Joyce said. “That allows us to play more guys—nine or 10.”